The death toll arising from the multiple explosions that rocked Kano metropolis last Friday has reportedly hit 215 counting still goes on, with several other victims lying critically injured in various hospitals, LEADERSHIP SUNDAY findings have shown.
LEADERSHIP SUNDAY had exclusively reported in August 2011, about a planned attack on the ancient city by the Boko Haram sect. The sect had sent a letter to the Kano State governor, Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, and the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, warning them that they were prepared to launch an attack on the city.
The letter which was signed by the sect's spokesman, Abu Zaid, claimed that the Kano State government was conniving with security agents and some district heads, to arrest their members. The sect who demanded the immediate release of their members, also threatened to make Kano State more ungovernable than Maiduguri, the Borno State capital and hot bed of the sect's attacks.
Our correspondent reports that the mortuary of the Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital has recorded the highest number of dead bodies followed closely by that of the Muhammad Abdullahi Wase Specialist Hospital all in Kano metropolis. Other notable hospitals where dead bodies have been deposited are Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and Sir Muhammadu Sanusi Hospital.
It was learnt that more than 95 percent of the dead bodies were removed from the streets yesterday morning as people were afraid of venturing out of their homes, owing to the 24-hour curfew imposed on the state after the explosions.
An official of the Red Cross Society who craved for anonymity put the death figure at 121. Effort to speak with the Kano coordinator of the society, Musa Abdullahi, failed as he refused to respond to our reporter's several calls.
Kano police command refused to speak on the death casualties. But Executive Secretary of the state Hospital Management Board, Dr Bello Umar Dikko could only confirm to LEADERSHIP the death of 20 persons with 40 injured.
"We have recorded 40 injured and up till now we can't ascertain the actual number of those that died as we are still conducting body count. We have 20 dead bodies so far.
"Due to the 24-hour curfew, there is panic and pandemonium and so people are afraid to collect dead bodies from the streets. It is therefore premature to say how many people have died. The victims died of gunshot, burns and stampedes", he said.
Bombai area, which houses the headquarters of the state police command, police barracks and official residence of AIG Zone One of the Nigeria Police Force, recorded the highest casualties because of the intense encounter between the police and Boko Haram members who had claimed responsibility for the Friday's deadly onslaught on the metropolis.
A resident of the Bompai area, for example, said he saw five dead bodies right in front of Pink Peacock Chinese Restaurant on Umaru Babura Road while another resident around the place claimed to have seen seven corpses near the official residence of AIG Zone One of the Nigeria Police Force at St. Louis Avenue.
A female police source said she saw many corpses being evacuated from the Bompai police barracks to various hospitals. An assistant Inspector of Police was killed in the compound while another officer was killed inside a toilet. The female police personnel also said they took cover in one corner within the barracks not knowing the place was so crowded with dead persons, saying the entire barracks was thrown into confusion as almost every person was mourning the loss of his or her loved ones.
It was learnt that the high casualties inside the barracks followed another onslaught on the police personnel and their families in the night by Boko Haram members who were said to have worn police uniforms to gain easy access into the huge compound.
A resident of Tudun Wada area that shares boundary with the barracks said the death toll recorded as at yesterday morning rose to more than 50, saying most of those killed were passersby.
Failed attempt To Abduct AIG Family members
An eye-witness told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY how the sect members engaged security operatives in a shoot-out after their attempt to take them into hostage, the family members of the Assistant Inspector General of Police, (AIG), Zone One, Abubakar Muhammed. The AIG's Personal Assistant PA and his driver were killed in the shoot-out.
It was revealed that the Boko Haram members, disguised as police officers had visited the AIG's residence and requested to take the family members into protective custody following the confusion in the city. The security men at the gate of the AIG were said to have smelt a rat and refused them entrance.
"As they came to the house, they were all in police uniform but one of the security guards suspected their plan and declined to cooperate with them. They said they came to the residence and wanted to go along with the family members on the orders of the AIG and said they would give them adequate protection", our source disclosed.
The security guards were said to have objected to their request insisting on hearing directly from the AIG. "As the guards refused to cave in, one of the Boko Haram members said let one of the security men speak with the AIG to get them convinced but they refused the entreatise," the source added.
LEADERSHIP SUNDAY learnt that while the disagreement was going on, the sect members suddenly brought out their weapons and started shooting at the guards. The Personal Assistant and the AIG's driver who ran from the AIG's office to give cover to his family were killed. Two other security men were also killed during the shoot-out.
AIG ESCAPED IN Keke-NAPEP
When the merchants of death came calling at the headquarters of the Zone One of the Nigeria Police Force last Friday, they knew that the AIG in-charge was right in his office within the premises. As the bomb exploded and the massive building began to shake, the AIG's orderly swiftly moved in and grabbed his boss. They practically jumped down from the one storey building and scaled the fence from behind.
An eyewitness told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that the AIG's shirt was bloodied.
"Once they scaled the fence, they ran to a tarred road that passed by the office from behind and flagged down a Keke-NAPEP, popularly called A Daidaita Sahu in Kano.
By then, about five other officers had joined them, and they all squeezed into the small vehicle and drove straight to the Police Divisional Office in Sharada. No sooner had they arrived than they were informed that the police station could also be targeted by Boko Haram, and they left for the residence of a retired police commissioner - a member of Kano royal family, Alhaji S. K Bayero. It was there that first aid was administered the AIG and the other officers that went with him, after which they were ferried to safety.
BOKO HARAM DISTRIBUTES FLYERS
Many Kano residents spoken to by LEADERSHIP SUNDAY confirmed that on their way to various mosques to pray, about three hours to the first attack on the AIG's office on Friday, they saw flyers on the ground. Alhaji Muhammadu S. Gabari told this newspaper that on his way to Al-Furqan Mosque on Alu Avenue, he saw a flyer on the ground.
"I picked it and saw that it was written in Hausa. The authors claimed to be Jama'atu Ahlis Sunnah Lidda'awati Wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram, and in it, they recounted the efforts they made to draw the attention of Kano authorities to what they called arbitrary arrests of their members and their threat to attack Kano if nothing was done about it." The source added that though there was nothing in the letter to suggest an attack was in the offing, he expected the security services to intensify on intelligence "which might have averted the disaster that befell the state," he said.
Excerpts From the Boko Haram Letter To Kano People and authorities:
"Everybody knows that a lot of our people were killed in Kano State, especially in Wudil town. We had perfected plans to take revenge but some notable scholars intervened by pleading with us. They also assured that our members would never be persecuted again and we took them by their words. Unfortunately however, about five months ago, security agencies began trailing and arresting our members who are carrying out their legitimate businesses, alleging that they were thieves and armed robbers.
The statement was signed personally by Imam Muhammad Abubakar Shekau, leader of the group.
SAINT LOUIS SECONDARY SCHOOL ALSO ATTACKED
Checks by LEADERSHIP SUNDAY confirmed that among the many targets hit was a famous secondary school on St. Loius Avenue, Bompai GRA, a stone throw from the AIG's residence. They pursued someone they thought was a policeman up to the gates of the school. As it was locked, he scampered out of the vehicle and scaled the fence. But once they arrived, the Boko Harma members bombed the gate and gained entry. They then bombed a hall usually rented by Muslims and Christians in organising social events and razed down the school's store, located within the premises. They killed the only person they sighted in the premises.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday vowed to get to the root of the multiple bomb blasts and acts of violence, saying those behind these acts of terrorism would be made to face the full wrath of the law.
In a statement by his Special Adviser On Media and Publicity, Dr. Rueben Abati, the president expressed his condolences to all victims, including the management and staff of Channels Television, saying he was greatly saddened by the incident which led to the loss of lives of innocent Nigerians.
"As a responsible Government, we will not fold our hands and watch enemies of democracy, for that is what these mindless killers are, perpetrate unprecedented evil in our land. I want to re-assure Nigerians, the international Community, and members of the fourth estate of the realm, who lost one of their colleagues, a reporter with Channels Television, that all those involved in that dastardly act would be made to face the full wrath of the law", Jonathan stated.
In another development, a new and violent chapter was yesterday opened in the political crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa state following the detonation of multiple bombs in some parts of the state capital, including the Peace Park positioned opposite the State Government House and an iron bridge linking the hometown of the former Governor D.S.P Alamieyeseigha with the state capital.
While the authorities of the State Police Command headed by Commissioner Hillary Opara has ruled out the possibility of the involvement of the Boko Haram sect in the bomb explosions, a cross section of residents and politicians viewed the bombing as an off- shoot of the battle of wits between the Governor Timipre Sylva group and the President Goodluck Jonathan faction of the party.
The explosions are coming few days to the tomorrow's presentation of party flag to Hon. Seriake Dickson as the flag-bearer of the party for the February 11th Governorship election in the State by a campaign committee to be led by Vice President, Namadi Sambo.
LEADERSHIP SUNDAY gathered that the explosions, which occurred few minutes from one another, started at about 11pm. One of the bombs, reportedly drilled into a part of the iron bridge, exploded and shook the foundation of most of the buildings along the Tombia roundabout. Clubbers at the popular Camp Murphy bar were thrown into panic and hurried home in fear.
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